We’ve all seen or heard of the movie ‘A Bridge Too Far’. It tells of the story of ‘Operation Market Garden’ during world War 2, the Allied attempt to break through German lines and seize several bridges in occupied Holland. On September 17th 1944, thousands of paratroopers descended from the sky over Arnhem by parachute or glider. Unfortunately the daring plan did not have the expected outcome. After 10 days of bitter fighting the operation ended with evacuation and The Parachute Regiment Division left behind nearly 1500 dead and more than 6500 prisoners.
In the final scene of the film, Kate Ter Horst (Liv Ullman) and her children are forced to abandon their bombed out residence. Placing their belongings in a cart which is drawn by Dr. Spaander ( Laurence Olivier), they pass through their front yard, which has been converted to a cemetery for fallen troops. A poignant reminder of the futile nature of warfare.
In May, I was commissioned to travel with a convey of 100 London black cabs, destination Arnhem, Holland. Each cab had as a passenger a world war veteran on board, many who had seen action in Arnhem. The convey assembled in London, travelled to Harwich and the fleet of taxis then boarded a ferry to Hook of Holland. Once in Holland, major roads were closed by Dutch police. In convoy formation, this unlikely fleet of black cabs were escorted by outriders to the desired destination.The majority of veterans were over the age of 90 but at the time of the conflict were in their late teens or early twenties.To hear their accounts of sacrifice and loss was incredibly humbling.
Back in May a fleet of over 100 London black cabs took as many World War veterans to Holland to visit sites of The Battle of Arnhem and to remember lost friends. This feature for ‘The British Legion’, highlighted the great efforts and generosity of many of the cab drivers.
On the 17th Sept it is the 71st anniversary of the conflict and later in the month I will blog photos of the trip to commemorate ‘Operation Market Garden’ and to remember the huge sacrifice so many made.